The Future of Mellon Arena!
One of the most compelling issues facing the city of Pittsburgh has been what to do with the Civic Arena – or the Mellon Arena, which has been its official name. Unquestionably, one of the citys most distinctive landmarks, it now has been in limbo since the building of the new Consol Center to accommodate the Penguins and other events.
The battle lines have been drawn for several months – the preservationists who want to retain the arena and convert it to other uses – and those who want to demolish it and develop the area which it occupies.
The preservationists have come up with several ideas for the future of the arena – convert it to a shopping mall…or a hotel…or a garden center…or a museum. Whatever – there are those who feel that the demolition of the arena would be a monumental mistake – and there are those on the opposite side who feel it would be more advantageous to demolish the building and level the land.
The City Planning Commission recently voted unanimously to tear down the arena. On the basis of that decision the preservationists have initiated a campaign to have the building designated as a historic landmark. The arena cannot be demolished while the nomination for the historic landmark is being debated.
On the demolition side are the Penguins and the Sports and Exhibition Authority who have control of the property. That’s another interesting question – since the taxpayers put up the money to build the arena years ago, how did the Pens and the SEA get control of the property?
The plan they have now advanced is to start demolition in April. It’s expected to cost $5 million to carry out the demolition plan.
It is interesting to note that the Consol Energy Center cost $325 million to build. It was at that time that officials agreed that the old arena would be demolished and the penguins would be given exclusive development rights to 28 acres. Now you, the taxpayer might ask the question – how did all that happen?
So the whole thing is in limbo while the city’s Historic Review Commission – and eventually City Council, review the matter. It should be added that the members of the Historic Review Commission were nominated by Mayor Ravenstahl who favors demolition.
From our point of view, we would hate to see this distinctive and unique structure – one of Pittsburgh’s most notable landmarks – disappear if a reuse can be found for it!
Robert W. Dickey
President & General Manager
Broadcast: December 3, 4, 5, 2010
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